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Overview

Affordable housing is a critical community asset to ensure that residents, regardless of income, have safe and decent homes.  The Metropolitan Council provides each community with forecasted population, housing, and employment growth along with each community’s share of the regional need for affordable homes. All communities are required to prepare comprehensive plans that address their share of the regional need for affordable housing.

Considerations (Did you know?)

-- Housing is considered affordable if no more than 30 percent of gross income goes toward housing—one in nine metro-area households spend more than half their income on housing.

-- In 2011, the region added 1,154 new affordable units, both owner-occupied and rental, using available federal, state, philanthropic and local funding.  This compares to 131,000 households paying more than half their income on housing costs (severe housing cost burden).  Households of color are more than twice as likely to experience severe housing cost burden as white households.

-- The Metropolitan Council defines affordable housing as housing that is affordable to households earning 60 percent of area median income (AMI). For a family of four, this means an annual income of $49,300 and housing that costs no more than $1,200 per month. Firefighters, preschool teachers, and nursing assistants are among those whose wages qualify them to live in affordable housing. 

-- Lack of affordable housing is a major reason why families move; high mobility is linked to a 50 percent greater chance of dropping out of school. Poor housing conditions are linked to health problems such as asthma and exposure to lead-based paint that contribute to academic deficits.

-- Aging housing stock poses a significant housing preservation challenge going forward. Half of all housing in the Twin Cities was built before 1976.

-- The region has one of the lowest apartment vacancy rates in the country, at just 2.9 percent, limiting rental affordability.

Discussion

As you respond to the following questions, consider how the Thrive outcomes, principles and goals inform your responses as well as what tensions you discover that might inform public policy. How do we recognize success?

  1. Since affordable housing funding sources fall short of the need, how should resources be prioritized?
    For example, should resources be prioritized for households with even lower incomes, households with children, people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, or seniors? Where should the balance be between rental and owner-occupied housing?

  2. What criteria should determine the regional priorities for where new affordable housing should be built and existing housing preserved?
    For example, should efforts prioritize locations along transit lines and/or places closer to amenities such as schools, job centers, social services, or parks? Alternatively, should priorities encourage new construction and preservation broadly across the region, including or especially in areas with little to no existing affordable housing? How should public policy respond to the changing affordable housing market along transitways? 

  3. How could the Metropolitan Council, state, counties, cities, and other agencies better coordinate to meet the affordable housing need? 
    What role should land use regulation play in encouraging affordable housing construction?

Topics

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